Housed within the University of British Columbia Department of Geography, the UBC Urban Studies Lab (UBC USL) serves as an interdisciplinary hub for critical urban praxis. Our mission is to assemble teams of social scientists, humanities scholars and natural scientists to pursue interdisciplinary projects that contribute to the cultivation of social justice in the city. Our two major streams of praxis are urban digital culture and sustainable urban planning.

UBC USL - Technology

UBC USL Tech is the technology-oriented stream of the UBC USL. Our technology research centers on issues of digital culture with a focus on algorithms in society. From development of theory and method for software based data analytics applications in the social sciences and digital humanities to more nuanced philosophical questions concerning the nature of algorithmic epistemology, our work attempts to elucidate the nature of contemporary social transformations associated with the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics and noospheric digital culture. 

"The central mission of CCIS is to mobilize the exponential advances in open-source data processing possibilities to refine and synthesize critical theories in philosophy, international relations, sociology, cultural studies, geography, and urban studies. Data and information are co-evolving, at an accelerating pace, with the processes by which groups form ‘publics’ and share consciousness in dynamic online discourse communities--which in turn interact in and with the physical settings of cities and suburbs that are at once familiar and yet newly transformed by the constant informational acceleration of mobile devices."

-Dr. Elvin K. Wyly, Professor of Geography, Director of the UBC Urban Studies Program and (Co)Founder-Director UBC Urban Studies Lab.

UBC USL Sustainable Planning

UBC USL Environment is the environmental sustainability oriented stream of the UBC USL. Our research centers on the nexus of worldview (the nexus of cosmology and ontology), epistemology and teleology (which emerge from worldview) and the potentials for human-nature relations established therein. In more applied terms we are working to develop an Indigenized planning paradigm-praxis that develops its conceptions of humanity’s teleological potentials and imperatives and derives its survey process from alternative ways of knowing (particularly Indigenous ways of knowing). This Indigenized planning paradigm-praxis will facilitate the cultivation of urban health and wellbeing through providing planning scholars and professionals with a model for developing places in urban spaces that can facilitate land-water-sky based pedagogies as a function of daily/nightly life.


The UBC Geographer: "CCIS, UBC Urban Studies Lab"


Research Community

Research Community

Luke R. Barnesmoore (CCIS Executive Director; PhD Candidate, UBC Department of Geography):

  • Co-Founder/Director

  • Luke R. Barnesmoore is Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies 501(c)3 (CCIS), Co-Founder/Director of the UBC Urban Studies Lab (UBC USL) and PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia Department of Geography (Supervisors: Elvin K. Wyly; E. Wayne Ross; Simon Springer). Luke completed his B.A. in International Relations at San Francisco State University where he graduated first in his class and his M.A. in Human Geography at the University of British Columbia. Luke has held a number of academic positions including Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley Statnews.org Lab where he developed theories and methods for application of large data text corpora analysis software in social science and humanities research. His interdisciplinary research centers the nexus of worldview (cosmology, ontology, teleology), epistemology and human-nature relations through the lens of a nomadic set of topics including Urban Planning, Anarchist Planning, Utopian Planning, Indigenous Planning and, more generally, the role of Myth in formation of the ontological foundation that expands and constrains potentials for thought, feeling, behavior and conception of being. Luke’s research has a popular following on academia.edu where he has over 350 followers, over 45,000 total views and is often ranked in the top .1% of active researchers (https://ubc.academia.edu/Barnesmoore). Luke’s research has been published in a number of notable academic journals including The Annals of Applied Statistics (Institute of Mathematical Statistics), Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space (Sage) and City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action (Taylor & Francis). Luke has served in a range of editorial positions for a number of academic journals including City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, Environment and Social Psychology, and ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. Luke’s research has been funded by prestigious awards including the Patrick David Campbell Graduate Fellowship and the Walter G. Hardwick Scholarship in Urban Studies. Luke’s research has been influenced my a number of authors including: Michel Foucault, Four Arrows, Gregory Cajete, Vine Deloria Jr., Dawn Morrison, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, Thomas Cleary, Meng Zi, William Blake, Jacob Needleman, Maurice Nicoll, P.D. Ouspensky, Patrick Geddes and Lewis Mumford (among so many others). Outside of his formal academic work Luke pursues creative writing on a number of topics from socio-political theory and contemporary politics through spirituality and fantasy fiction and volunteers in the in the unceeded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm gardens' (also known as the Indigenous Health Research and Education Gardens).

Elvin K. Wyly (Professor, UBC Department of Geography):

  • Co-Founder

  • Elvin Wyly is Professor of Geography and Chair of the Urban Studies Coordinating Committee at the University of British Columbia.  He is a specialist on urban social and spatial inequality in U.S. and Canadian cities.  His work has been supported by grants and contracts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.  He has served as Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Urban Geography (2005-2015).  Recent publications include “Emplacement and the Dispossessions of Cosmopolitan Capital” (Geoforum), “Gentrification on the Planetary Urban Frontier:  The Evolution of Turner’s Noösphere” (Urban Studies), “Make America Housing Great Again” (Housing Policy Debate), and “Planetary Kantsaywhere:  Cognitive Capitalist Universities and Accumulation by Cognitive Dispossession” (City).

Nicole Rallis (PhD Student, UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy):

  • Artistic Pedagogy Research Fellow

Dustin Gray (PhD Student, UBC Department of Geography)

  • Urban Theory Research Fellow

Wilson Mendes (PhD Student, UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems)

  • Indigenous Food Sovereignty Research Fellow

  • Wilson Mendes is co-director of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty (WGIFS), founder and principal of the Oka Community Planning and Visual Communication, Indigenous Food Sovereignty Research Fellow at the UBC Urban Studies Lab, PhD student with the UBC faculty of Land and Food Systems (Supervisors: Dr. Eduardo Jovel; Dr. Leoni Sandercock), and project manager at the xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Health Research and Education Garden at the UBC Farm. Wilson completed his BA at the University of Victoria and his Masters in Indigenous Community Planning at the University of British Columbia. A community planner by trade, Wilson works to revitalize Indigenous cultures through intergenerational land-based education. Wilson’s recently finished and ongoing film projects include a video on rising sea levels for the City of Vancouver’s Sustainability Office and a feature length film on the Wild Salmon Caravan for the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Wilson’s ongoing Ph.D. research examines the intersection of Indigenous land-based learning and Indigenous food sovereignty for urban Indigenous Youth.

A.T. Kingsmith (PhD Candidate, York University Department of Politics)

  • Political Theory Research Fellow

  • A.T. Kingsmith is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Politics at York University, Toronto, where his research examines the impact of different forms, feelings, and affects of anxiety on emotional health, democratic processes and social movements in urban space. He is co-founder of The Affective Cartographies Project, a Toronto, London, and Berlin-based initiative constructing open, interactive databases that map the affective terrain of world cities, both in near real time and historically to provide textured renderings of affects as they emerge through the human body in relation to the spaces and events around it. Recently, he co-edited a volume on contemporary organizing strategies entitled "The Radical Left and Social Transformation: Augmentation and Reorganization" (Routledge 2019) and co-authored a book on the politics of Eurasian infrastructural integration: "One Road, Many Dreams: China's Bold Plan to Remake the Global Economy (Bloomsbury 2019). As the chair of the digital issues committee at Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and a cofounder of the c4 Computing Club, he works with journalists, community activists, union organizers, and academics on digital defence tactics and strategies.

Conor Provenzano

  • Film Theory Research Fellow

  • Conor Provenzano is a filmmaker, photographer and musician who graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in Film and Media Arts in 2011. At that time, he made a short documentary about bird and human use in Bear River Bay which successfully prevented the globally important bird area (IBA) from being annexed by Great Salt Lake Mineral ponds. In 2012, Conor began researching the healing / spiritual implications of attention which led to his first feature documentary, "FOCUSED LIFE." In addition to directing, filming and editing devotional films about consciousness, Conor has created video content for multi-disciplinary theater productions, museum exhibitions and arts-inspired university education programs. His photographs have appeared in Mousse, Frieze, Stern, the New York Times Magazine, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Most recently Conor is collaborating on a documentary highlighting Indigenous food sovereignty in British Columbia through the lens of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty’s Wild Salmon Caravan and working as Film Theory Research Fellow in the UBC Urban Studies Lab.  

Lucie Irene Ashley

  • Environment and Sustainability Research Fellow 

  • Lucie Irene Ashley holds a Masters of International Forestry from the University of British Columbia International Forestry Program where she concentrated on sustainable development strategies and conservation. Lucie received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Religious Studies from San Francisco State University and an Associate of Arts in Journalism from De Anza College. Prior to UBC, Lucie lived at the Sivananda Ashram in upstate New York, serving as the sustainability project coordinator, managing and fundraising for various renewable energy projects. While at the Ashram, she also served as one of the permaculture designers (Certified 2014), implementing permaculture principles to grow food and build structures with the goal of creating self-sustaining ecosystems. Lucie currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for CCIS. In her free time Lucie enjoys the study of contemplative philosophy and religion as well as the study of German language, literature and culture.

Critical Theory Interns:

Silvana Martinez: I am currently a third year Arts student with interests in human geogrpahy, sociology, and philosophy (still undeclared). My research interests of the moment regard the incorporation of art forms and autoethnographic methods as sources for insight in urban-related topics. I am currently learning about these methods and using my own photographic content to begin exploring urban themes therein.

Brenna Williams: I'm currently in my third year at UBC with the intended major of environment and sustainability within the geography department. I am not sure what I want to focus on, but I have a general interest in how the environment works. More specifically, I'm interested in looking at how humans play a role in the environment and what (if) we can do anything to live in harmony with our surrounding nature.